[Svrilist] Kenyan Activists Push for change in Rape Laws

svrilist at mrc.ac.za svrilist at mrc.ac.za
Thu May 18 15:01:54 SAST 2006

Getting out this news is incredibly important so that effective actions can 
be taken.  In the case of an 11-year old girl being repeatedly raped and 
becoming pregnant, I think that we need to go beyond seeing this as a pity 
to seeing this as a crime and violation of her basic human rights.  Forced 
pregnancy is defined as such and countries (in their legal frameworks), 
health systems (in their services), and activists need to address this issue 
head-on so that women and girls who are forcibly impregnated from rape have 
options, including the option to abort the pregnancy under safe, accessible 
and humane conditions.  Work throughout Latin America has shown that this is 
necessary and feasible but takes a concerted and collaborative effort on the 
part of many sectors of society (see pubs at 

Deborah Billings, PhD
Senior Associate, R&E
Ipas/ Ipas Mexico www.ipas.org

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <svrilist at mrc.ac.za>
To: <svrilist at mrc.ac.za>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 2:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Svrilist] Kenyan Activists Push for change in Rape Laws

> ...Thanks for the efforts made in highlighting the
> rampant rape cases in Kenya...
> We believe that with the joint world wide outcry
> against this social ill, something positive will be
> done to protect the innocent girls, boys, women and
> others who have undergone the same ordeal, that leaves
> the innocent with permanent trauma the rest of their
> lives...
> A recent case is a girl, elleven years of age who was
> repeatedly raped in January 2006, and was reported to
> be four months pregnant! What a pitty!
> Thanks once again for the good reports!
> Ms. Perez Abeka,
> Chairperson/Gender activist,
> --- svrilist at mrc.ac.za wrote:
>> Kenyan Activists Push New Sex-Assault Law
>> By Ochieng' Ogodo
>> WeNews correspondent
>> Njoki NdunThree days later, some 200 kilometers away
>> in Sotik, Zephaniah
>> Kibet Koech was sentenced to seven years in prison
>> after pleading guilty to
>> raping a 13-year-old. Koech waylaid the girl on her
>> way to school, forcibly
>> removed her clothes and gagged her before raping
>> her.
>> The two child-rape cases were part of a torrent of
>> publicity about a crime
>> that has been rising in Kenya. Despite survivors'
>> reluctance to make public
>> accusations, 1,987 women and children were reported
>> to be raped in 2001;
>> 2,005 in 2002; 2,308 in 2003. In 2005, the number of
>> cases rose to 2,908,
>> according to police statistics released last
>> September. The East Africa
>> nation has a population of about 30 million.
>> In response to growing concern over rape and incest,
>> one member of Kenya's
>> Parliament, Njoki Ndun'gu, introduced a bill last
>> summer that would have
>> handed down stiff penalties to convicted rapists and
>> revised a legal code
>> for addressing sexual crimes that had not
>> experienced significant
>> alterations since 1930.
>> "The current law relating to rape and other sexual
>> offenses is archaic and
>> we have to do something," Ndun'gu told Women's
>> eNews. "Would-be offenders
>> must know that if they commit the crime, they will
>> not escape with a fine or
>> a couple months in jail but will be behind bars for
>> the best part of their
>> lives."
>> But Ndun'gu's Sexual Offenses Bill hasn't won
>> passage yet. Last week the
>> Parliament went on recess without approving it. The
>> bill, which many
>> observers predict will ultimately be passed in an
>> amended form, has been
>> greeted with skepticism by some in the
>> male-dominated Parliament. In late
>> April, 12 of the body's 18 female members stormed
>> out of a debate in protest
>> after member Paddy Ahenda remarked that many Kenyan
>> women were too "shy" to
>> consent to sex by saying yes directly.
>> "If the bill is adopted the way it is, it will
>> prevent men from courting
>> women and this will be a serious impediment to the
>> young who would want to
>> marry," Ahenda said. "In our culture, when women say
>> no, they mean yes,
>> unless she's loose in morals."
>> 'Endemic' Abuse of Children
>> Last July, Care International issued a blistering
>> report about the abuse of
>> children in Kenya, calling it endemic. "Alarmingly,
>> the most common form of
>> abuse against children appears to be sexual abuse,"
>> the Nairobi-based
>> humanitarian aid group found.
>> The report drew a link between the prevalence of
>> sexual abuse in Kenya and
>> socio-economic status, noting that about 80 percent
>> of reported cases
>> occurred in low-income areas and slums. Families can
>> be found living in
>> single rooms with limited privacy. High unemployment
>> rates among youths are
>> also a factor, the report said.
>> But most sexual abuses that occur in wealthier
>> households often go
>> unreported, the report said. A similar report issued
>> by London-based Amnesty
>> International in March of 2002 called on the Kenyan
>> government to reform its
>> rape laws, noting that many victims face
>> "insurmountable obstacles" in
>> reporting their cases and encounter hostility from
>> family, the police and
>> community members.
>> Spurred by the prevalence of the crime, the severity
>> of physical and
>> psychological injury to victims and heightened media
>> attention, Ndun'gu and
>> anti-rape activists in 2005 proposed tougher
>> punishments for convicted
>> offenders of various types of sexual assault. The
>> original bill was
>> withdrawn after it was criticized for including
>> chemical castration as a
>> possible sentence for rapists, but a revised version
>> eliminating castration
>> was reintroduced.
>> The current bill presents 36 penalties for convicted
>> rapists, which range
>> from hard labor, prison sentences between one and 20
>> years and even life
>> terms. Under the bill, anyone convicted of
>> publishing or distributing child
>> pornography will face at least six years in prison
>> or a fine up to 500,000
>> Kenyan shillings, about $7,000.
>> The bill also introduces marital rape as a crime for
>> the first time.
>> Child Marriage Outlawed
>> Anyone convicted of marrying a minor--under
>> 18--would face a prison term of
>> at least 10 years. Girls as young as 10 years old
>> are commonly married among
>> some of the traditional pastoral communities of
>> Kenya, even though the age
>> of consent was raised to 18 in 1999 as a method to
>> combat the spread of
>> The law would also punish a man found guilty of
>> forced wife inheritance--a
>> traditional custom that says a widow must be
>> "inherited" by her husband's
>> brother or close relative--with a 10-year prison
>> term.
>> "The Sexual Offenses Bill will address gaps in our
>> current law," said
>> Kathurima M'Inoti, chair of the Kenya Law Reform
>> Commission, adding that the
>> current penal code was developed from centuries-old
>> customs and ideas.
>> The bill was spearheaded by 40-year-old Ndun'gu.
>> Before her nomination to
>> Parliament in early 2003, Ndun'gu worked with
>> women's rights activists who
>> informed her that rape occurs in Kenya every 30
>> minutes. She also worked
>> with the Nairobi Women's Hospital, which since its
>> foundation 10 years ago
>> has treated rape victims.
>> The Kenya chapter of the Nairobi-based Federation of
>> Women Lawyers Kenya
>> found in a 1999 study that very few survivors of
>> gender-based violence will
>> report the crime and even fewer will pursue legal
>> action.
>> Stigma Affects Victims
>> "Unfortunately due to gender discrimination, the low
>> status in society of
>> women and girls, and the terrible stigma that
>> affects the victims and their
>> families, little or no reporting of rape occurs and
>> it goes unpunished,"
>> says Ndun'gu.
>> A rape survivor, say activists, is often shunned by
>> family and former
>> friends as "unclean." In some communities they can
>> only be married as second
>> or third wives.
>> Authors of Care International's July study found
>> that
> === message truncated ===>
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